Pupils in plea for Preston Council action on plastic waste
The city council has taken a major step towards a plastic-free Preston, with help from environmentally-minded school children.
A motion calling for a crackdown on single-use plastic at the Town Hall and civic functions received cross-party support yesterday.
The vote was preceded by pupils from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Lea calling on the local authority to take action, after being inspired by the BBC’s Blue Planet programme.
Nine-year-old Christopher Holland-Bass received a standing ovation from councillors for addressing the chamber on the issue.
Christopher said: “We are worried about animals dying from plastic rubbish. How can the council help to educate people not to throw away plastic bottles?
“Our school council is going to put up posters and have more recycling bins and encourage the other pupils to use less plastic.”
The motion, tabled by Conservative Coun Christine Abram and seconded by Coun John Swindells, also called on residents to contact supermarket giants, urging them to cut down on plastic waste on their own-brand products.
Coun Abram told the chamber the footage of plastic pollution affecting ocean wildlife in Blue Planet II has had a powerful impact on the younger generation.
She said: “This is what our children have been watching and this has made a big impact and prompted them to become aware of the plastic pollution.
“To see the world through a second time through the eyes of my grandson is enlightening.
“He is being brought up to value and cherish wildlife and the environment.”
She added: “The children who came today are concerned about the future, their future. We have a duty to protect their future and let them know that we care.”
The motion was backed unanimously.
Coun Swindells of Labour added: “I’m really pleased that the government has gone out to consultation today (see panel, right). I wish it was more.
“It seems ages ago now that I brought a motion to council about plastic bags and was told it will never work. But eventually it did work and Preston led on this to work with stores to reduce the number of plastic bags (with a 5p charge introduced).
“Thankfully Blue Planet brought it to everyone’s attention.
“It’s a pressing problem, one that the whole world needs to tackle properly.
“Let’s not go to consultation, let’s start doing it and stop making exceptions for why we can’t do it.”
The council will now support the Plastic Free Communities campaign backed by several local authorities across the country.
And the town hall’s director of environment will write to the environment minister to call for policy changes “to reduce the use of single use plastic, such as the banning of plastic straws and the introduction of a take back scheme for plastic bottles.
The move in Preston comes weeks after its neighbouring authority in South Ribble voted to ditch the use of single-use plastics.
The children’s question
The question from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School to the council read:
Dear Mr Mayor,
Can we please ask Coun Boswell a question?
We are worried about animals dying from plastic rubbish.
How can the council help to educate people not to throw away plastic bottles?
How can we help to use less plastic? We are concerned about the fish in the ocean and animals tangled in plastic.
At St Mary’s School, our school council is going to put up posters and have more recycling bins and encourage the other pupils to use less plastic.
ST MARY’S SCHOOL COUNCIL
Banning buds and straws
Plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds could be banned from sale in England under plans being set out by Theresa May.
The Prime Minister said plastic waste was “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world” and the UK was taking a lead in tackling the problem.
A consultation on banning the disposable plastic products will launch later this year in an effort to cut the amount of waste which ends up in rivers and oceans.
Mrs May urged Commonwealth leaders gathered in London to follow the UK’s example in tackling the problem.
She said: “Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
“The UK Government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
“Alongside our domestic action, this week we are rallying Commonwealth countries to join us in the fight against marine plastics, with £61.4m funding for global research and to improve waste management in developing countries.
“The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines.
“Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.”
Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Other non-recyclable ‘problem plastic’ should also be banned at the earliest opportunity.”